Lewis Travis will mark 100 league appearances for Rovers tonight where he could well face the man he had to dislodge to break into the side.

Travis had been keen to leave on loan in the 2018/19 season, but an impressive showing on a rare start at Sheffield United in December 2018, coinciding with a red card for Richie Smallwood, offered him an opportunity at Rovers from which he’s not looked back.

Bar a three month absence from the side with injury last season, the 23-year-old has been a virtual ever present and a mainstay in the middle of midfield where tonight he could come up against Smallwood as Rovers host Hull City.

Travis gave a frank assessment of his form upon his injury return but feels his fitness, and performances, have been like ‘night and day’ compared to last term.   And he says a century of league appearances for the club is a milestone he’s particularly proud of.

“It comes around quick, but it’s one that I’m really happy with,” Travis said.

“I see a lot of people getting chances and they don’t always stick around the team but I felt as though I needed to stick in the team.

“The gaffer gave me a chance at Sheffield United and I felt as though I did myself no harm with my performance.

“Richie got his red card which led to me playing more and I took my chance with both hands.

“He wanted to get back into the team and I just tried to keep him out of the side as best I could.”

There was a smile immediately on the face of Travis when asked about the prospect of a midfield battle with former team-mate, but three points is undoubtedly the target after Rovers let two slip through their fingers after Luton Town’s 98th minute equaliser at the weekend.

The midfielder added: “It was pointed out in the meeting before the game that Luton like to make it a physical game, but we’re a very aggressive team as well so I felt as though we matched it.

“But in the end we were all really disappointed, at both ends of the pitch, we should have scored more, but then at the back we shouldn’t haven’t conceded late on either.”

Tomorrow marks a year since Travis sustained the knee ligament injury in the Carabao Cup defeat at Newcastle United that would rule him out until the new year.

His return to the side was immediate, as was Rovers’ upturn in form, going unbeaten in January.

But Travis said his return coinciding with those results was overstated and it’s not been until the start of this campaign, and a full pre-season under his belt, that he’s felt anything like being back to his best.

“It’s like night and day from last year. I’d never had an injury before, I felt as though I could come straight back and be how I was, the same fitness, but I probably rushed it to get back and I wasn’t there physically,” he said.

“I got put back in the team straight away and we won the first three matches after the team had gone on a bit of a bad run.

“I was probably hiding behind the wins because your performances don’t get criticised when you’re winning games, but breaking them down myself, I knew I wasn’t there.”

Despite feeling better about his displays, Travis says there are still areas of his game in which he can improve, not least adding to the three goals that he’s managed in Rovers colours.

“There are still a few aspects of my game I want to progress in and I feel I can really kick on,” he explained.

“I’d like to add more goals and assists, more creativity, and although I’m playing as the deep-lying midfielder I can still chip with a few and some more progressive passing.”

The first of Travis’ league appearances came off the bench in the vital win over Shrewsbury Town in 2018, his senior debut for Rovers having come in the Checkatrade Trophy win over Stoke City Under-21s.

At the time he was performing well for the Under-23s where he was initially used as a full back, or right wing-back, as he did during his time with Liverpool.

On the development of his position, Travis explained: “After about a year playing central midfield in the first team and doing well I got put at right back and had a nightmare so I don’t think the gaffer trusts me there now!

“When I was at Liverpool I was at right back all the way through and when I came here into the Under-23s it was Damien Johnson and David Dunn and they tried me for a game in centre mid and I never looked back.

“They had that in mind and I stood out.”